What is the landscape behind the Mona Lisa?La Jaconde by Leonardo da Vinci [Musee de Louvre]

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Image credit: Leonardo da Vinci   Historian Carla Glori may have identified the location shown in Da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting.

Carla Glori, an Italian art historian, believes that the landscape behind Mona Lisa is known as the Ponte Gobbo or Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge) identifiable by the three-arch-bridge which can be seen behind Mona Lisa's left shoulder.  This bridge, contends Glori, is a structure that was located south of Piacenza in northern Italy; however, the bridge was later destroyed in a flood.  Bobbio is a village which lies in rugged hill country south of Piacenza, in northern Italy.  Da Vinci was born in Vinci in Tuscany; however, he travelled extensively throughout Italy during his lifetime working in Venice, Rome and Bologna, so he could easily have come across depictions of this bridge. As documentation, Glori says, "Leonardo added in the numbers 7 and 2 [for 1472] beneath the bridge to record the devastating flood of the River Trebbia and to allow it to be identified."  These numbers were discoverd by art historian Silvano Vinceti.  Obviously, the bridge was destroyed before DaVinci's painting was even begun in 1503 or 1504.

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